“Sheet masks are like fast food.” ~ Paris B
I’m not sure how this statement I’m making is going to be perceived, so it’ll be interesting to know your take, as it is a statement I’ve found myself making more often recently.
I’m not trying to be deliberately provocative, nor am I slamming the use of sheet masks. Quite many years ago, I wrote about why I or you might want to use a sheet mask (before the explosion of Korean brand masks hit the market), and much of what I wrote 7 years ago still holds true today.
I was using sheet masks from way back, when the market was primarily dominated by Japanese and Taiwanese brands.
Today, you can’t move for the availability of affordable and easy to find sheet mask brands, many of which I notice are made popular by Korean brands.
Anyone who talks about K-beauty will inevitably talk about the sheet masks they use, how often they use them and how lovely they are. When I visited Seoul quite many years ago, my luggage when I returned, was filled with sheet masks from different brands because they were so affordable to buy in bulk. I could have set up shop, if I had been more enterprising LOL!
Yet over the years, I’ve found myself using sheet masks less and less. I’m not sure that I ever finished my Korean stash; and the primary reason why I’m no longer into using sheet masks is the same reason I try to cook my own food when I can – sheet masks feel too much like fast food.
Fast food is not real food
I’m not saying that sheet masks are a bad thing. Like fast food, sometimes, we want that burger or fried chicken and fries fix. It fills us up when we’re hungry, it’s quick and it’s usually quite affordable. Quite, depending on where you live naturally.
Yet, fast food has its down sides as well, as we are all reminded now and again. Eat too much, and all that oil and salt will eventually kill you, or if it doesn’t, you’d just get fat 😛
I view sheet masks the same way.
Like fast food, sheet masks are convenient
Like fast food (think McDonald’s or KFC and the like), sheet masks are convenient and give your skin that much needed boost of hydration very quickly, the same way a McValue meal fills you up quickly.
Sheet masks usually come individually packed, and this makes them portable. That’s true of a burger and fries from a drive-in as well. You can easily carry a pack everywhere you go, and dispose of it when you’re done without any mess or fuss.
Sheet masks are easy to pop on the skin, and you don’t usually have to wash your face after that. So, you can follow up with your skincare routine quite easily thereafter.
Sheet masks – an environmental nightmare
But have you thought about how the packaging contributes to the landfill problem the world is facing?
I’m not your greenest person alive, and I honestly did not think about this, until I chanced upon a comment on a random website one day. It got me thinking about the single-use nature of the sheet masks, the packaging it comes in (sometimes packed with extra sheets to make it easier to fold or unfold) and the foil.
If you use a week’s worth of sheet masks, I think you’d notice quite quickly that your bin will soon overflow.
Fast food fills you up with empty calories – could that be true of sheet masks?
We know by now that the nutrition value of a fast food value meal rarely matches up to a proper “whole foods” meal, or slow-food as some people have called it. Fast food tends to be battered, fried and contain high levels of sodium and/or sugar. It fills you up (and often makes for a delicious cheat meal!) but often, it’s empty calories.
For me, sheet masks are the same. When I put on a sheet mask, it gives me that momentary pleasure. A delicious cooling down of the skin, and the sensation of a boost of hydration to the skin. I might even see a glow from within.
But it doesn’t last.
By the next morning, my skin is back to its normal self. It makes me wonder if I’m just seeing some placebo effect. Perhaps it’s the cooling down of my skin that’s giving me the glow? I don’t know.
I read often of people who use a sheet mask daily because they say it gives you the best effect. I’ve tried it. Use a sheet mask for 7 days in a row, and your skin does feel noticeably softer and more hydrated. Stop for a few days, and it all goes back to normal.
Fast food doesn’t use quality ingredients – could that also be true of sheet masks?
Now, we know that when a fast food burger claims to be “100% cow” they aren’t kidding 😛 Your nuggets aren’t made from 100% chicken and your burger patties are not 100% beef. You’re ingesting food that satisfies temporarily, without any long-term benefits.
So, is the same true of sheet masks?
If I’m so particular about the rest of my skincare, why am I putting a cheap face mask on my skin from a brand that I’d not otherwise use?
I’m not saying here that sheet mask brands use inferior or sub-standard ingredients. What I’m saying here is that I’m very particular about the rest of the skincare that goes on my skin, as most of you well know.
Yet, when it comes to a sheet mask, I’m comfortable closing one eye and just putting it on, without checking the ingredient list. Do you?
Or I might even use a sheet mask from a brand I’d never heard of or would never otherwise use, simply because it’s “just a sheet mask”.
I came across an article not long ago about the unsanitary conditions under which sheet masks were packaged. You don’t think they’re folded by machines do you?
Yet, the same people who might rail at moisturisers and creams being sold in tubs, will happily tear open a foil pack and slap on a sheet mask with no qualms. Does that foil pack lull us into a sense of complacency or give the impression that sheet masks are more hygienic than they really are? Note: Also read this comment by reader Jun Ni. I SHUDDER!
Fast food works out more expensive in the long run and so does using sheet masks
If you were to eat fast food every single day, you will quickly find that it all starts to add up and hurt your wallet quite soon. Not to mention what it’ll do to your waistline and heart!
When I was a kid, fast food was the occasional treat for birthdays or as a reward for doing well in exams. What can I say? I come from a small town and we took our indulgences where we could 🙂
Have you worked out how much your sheet mask habit costs you in the long run?
As I’ve mentioned above, I find the results from using sheet masks quite temporary. So, they’re great if I want to put a good face forward, quickly.
Sheet masks are good for a quick fix
If I’m travelling, a cooling sheet mask quickly rejuvenates me and my skin and makes me look better quickly. If I have a formal dinner to attend, slapping on a sheet mask a couple of hours before that plumps up my skin and makes me look better. But if I want a result that lasts, I go back to a proper mask that comes in a tub or tube.
I know some people say that you should use a sheet mask only 1-2 times a week, but let’s be honest. If that’s the case, why are there people making out a case for using a sheet mask EVERY SINGLE DAY as part of their skincare routine? Japanese and Korean skincare is at this level, and the Japanese even have packs of masks for 7-14 days in a row.
Wash off or leave on face masks deliver better and more lasting results
I have found, from a few years of experimenting, that the results from a proper wash off face mask or even a sleeping mask, delivers far better and more lasting results than a sheet mask.
With a facial mask, I can have the results last me up to a week or 3-4 days after that, before I need to do a mask again. If I go for a proper facial (my favourite is the La Mer one because the facial massages are second to none!) the results can last me up to 10 days sometimes, but at least 2-3 days.
Yet, many of us balk at paying for a tub or tube of a proper facial mask. That tub could last months, with the occasional weekly or twice weekly use (be generous and do a facial mask more often!) and you could yet many uses out of it. Yet, we balk – I’m just as guilty as you are!
But we’re happy to pay RM6 and up for a one-time sheet mask, because it’s “cheaper” (note: I don’t know how much sheet masks costs individually anymore sorry!). Yet, if you were to take the results into consideration, you’d have to end up using more sheet masks, more often, to achieve the same results you’d get from a RM150 tub of face mask, that can last you over 20-25 uses over a longer period of time.
By way of further example, I have found that the new cellulose or gel type sheet masks are better in terms of product delivery to the skin and I do experience better and longer lasting results using these masks. But cellulose and gel masks are expensive when compared to your basic paper masks. You couldn’t keep up a regular habit of using a gel mask that starts from RM10 each and can go up all the way to RM30 each. Yet people do.
Speaking personally, I hardly use sheet masks anymore as a treatment. For me, they are now more of a convenient treat to cool my skin or for that quick hydration hit. Just like fast food. Sometimes, I crave that sodium hit from fried chicken and french fries. I indulge. But most days, I eat whole foods wherever I can. And I’m applying that to my masking routines.
RELATED READING: I tried masking for 30 days straight and here’s what I noticed – READ HERE
Do you use a sheet mask regularly? Do you prefer sheet masks to tub or tube wash off masks?
For the most part now, I use masks from tubes and tubs about twice a week, but at least once a week. I double mask or triple mask, depending on how much time I have. I find that the results last longer. For example, I might go at it with a mud or detox mask first, then follow up with a hydration mask or a revitalizing sleeping mask left on overnight. I do still sometimes indulge in a sheet mask, but like fast food, it’s an exception, not the norm. Food for thought maybe? Let me know what you think 😉